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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Magkano po ito? (How much is this?)

“10 centavos was enough to buy you a bottle of Coke and a siopao (包子 or baozi).”

My mother has told me that story so many times that I’ve already lost count… and I still can’t hear enough of it. I don’t know how much the exchange rate really was at that time (that is Philippine Peso against the US dollar), but I think she has mentioned that it was around 2 or 3 pesos to the dollar. In today’s exchange rate, 10 centavos is only US$0.002 (using a rough PhP45.00 to US$1.00 conversion)! The lowest Peso-Dollar exchange I can remember was 7.00 pesos to the dollar… I think that was some time around 1982 to 1984.

At around that time (1984), the minimum jeepney fare was P1.00, a taxi ride was P1.50 at “flag down”, a kalesa ride [from Padre Algue Street (corner Jose Abad Santos) to Asuncion Street (corner C.M. Recto)] was P7.00, a small bag of junk food (cheap imitations of Jack n’ Jill Cheese Curls and Planters Cheese Balls) was P1.00 and every bag had a small plastic toy in it. “Dirty” ice cream can be bought for as little as 50 centavos, if you’d buy P5.00 worth, you’d have enough ice cream to fill a mug.

Now (in Metro Manila)…
  • Philippine Peso exchange rate against the US Dollar: P44.315 (as of August 11, 2008 – 4:37 pm)
  • Minimum daily wage: P362.00
  • Minimum jeepney fare: P8.50
  • Minimum “FX” fare: P15.00
  • Taxi at “flag down” (when the meter is turned on): P25.00 (well, actually it’s now P35.00… when the cab driver turns the meter on, it will still say P25.00, but you have to pay him whatever amount the meter is displaying PLUS P10.00 more when you get to your destination.)
  • Parking fees at the malls: P25.00 to P40.00
  • Lottery ticket: P10.00 per bet
  • Haircut (salon): starting from P60.00 (could be lower in small barbershops)
  • Doctor’s consultation fee: starts at P500.00 in private hospitals (though, if you are entitled to discounts, perhaps because your pediatrician’s brother in law is your son’s godfather, then, it’s just P300.00)
  • Pan de sal or pandesal (probably the most popular breakfast bread): starts at P1.00 a piece for the small variety (according to my sources) but at our neighborhood bakery/variety store they sell for P1.50.
  • A stick of Marlboro brand cigarette: P2.00 (A pack can be bought for P27.00 to P28.00 in some supermarkets)
  • Candies (primarily mentholated candies and gums): 3 pieces for P2.00 (or P1.00 a piece from sidewalk vendors)
  • Bottled water (smallest bottle): P15.00 (could be lower in supermarkets)
  • McDonald’s BigMac: P92.00
  • McDonald’s Regular Fries: P27.00
  • McDonald’s “Burger McDo”: P27.00
  • Hotel Accommodation (Richmonde Hotel): Starts at US$105.00 inclusive of breakfast (according to their website)

Last night, on my way home (on a jepney), a woman dropped a peso coin while she was trying to put her change into her purse… the coin landed on the step of the jeepney’s entrance. It was very evident that she wanted to get the coin back as her eyes never left the shiny coin. And every time someone would get off, I noticed her becoming a bit edgy (perhaps fearing that her precious coin would be kicked off to the street). At one point, when someone got off, she tried to reach for the coin raising her behind off her seat when, suddenly, the driver stepped on the gas. If she would have reached any further, she would have rolled off the jeepney and fell on the pavement and God-knows-what. Good thing she was able to hold on and sit back down on her seat. While all this was happening, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “is that peso coin worth risking your life for?”

She eventually got her precious coin back as it was still resting on where it landed when she dropped it when she got off.


Tesha said...

"Magkano po ito?" is one the must learn question in any country that one intends to go to.
In Hangeul (Korean), it is "Olma eyo?"


BCS said...

VERY MUCH agreed tesha... and always bring a pocket calculator with you... LOL! :P

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